Debunking the Milk Myth: Why Milk is Bad for You and Your Bones
Did you know that in Medieval England parents would tie rabbits’ feet around their babies’ necks to ward off illness? Doctors would also spit on wounds because saliva was believed to have healing properties.
Indeed, history is replete with unfounded health beliefs, and to everyone’s detriment, the milk myth is among the most tenacious.
Milk is much more than just a drink; it’s a cultural phenomenon that can be traced back thousands of years ago. And still today, the milk myth resonates loud and clear: in 2001, the average American child consumed 104 quarts of cow’s milk.
Milk depletes the calcium from your bones
The milk myth has spread around the world based on the flawed belief that this protein and calcium-rich drink is essential to support good overall health and bone health in particular at any age. It is easy to understand that the confusion about milk’s imaginary benefits stems from the fact that it contains calcium – around 300 mg per cup.
But many scientific studies have shown an assortment of detrimental health effects directly linked to milk consumption. And the most surprising link is that not only do we barely absorb the calcium in cow’s milk (especially if pasteurized), but to make matters worse, it actually increases calcium loss from the bones. What an irony this is!
Here’s how it happens. Like all animal protein, milk acidifies the body pH which in turn triggers a biological correction. You see, calcium is an excellent acid neutralizer and the biggest storage of calcium in the body is – you guessed it… in the bones. So the very same calcium that our bones need to stay strong is utilized to neutralize the acidifying effect of milk. Once calcium is pulled out of the bones, it leaves the body via the urine, so that the surprising net result after this is an actual calcium deficit.
Cow’s milk is custom-designed for calves
Thanks to our creative ingenuity and perhaps related to our ancient survival needs, we adopted the dubious habit of drinking another species’ milk. Nobody can dispute that cow’s milk is an excellent food source for calves. Weighing around 100 pounds at birth, a calf typically gains approximately eight times its weight by the time it is weaned. But unlike humans, once calves are weaned, they never drink milk again. And the same applies to every mammalian species on this planet.
Also, each mammalian species has its own “designer” milk, and cow’s milk is no exception. For example, cow’s milk contains on average three times the amount of protein than human milk which creates metabolic disturbances in humans that have detrimental bone health consequences.
It’s important to bear in mind that mother’s milk is excellent nourishment for human babies, but its composition is very different from cow’s milk.
Scientific studies show that milk increases fracture risk
Many scientific studies contradict the conventional wisdom that milk and dairy consumption help reduce osteoporotic fractures. Surprisingly, studies demonstrating that milk and dairy products actually fail to protect bones from fractures outnumber studies that prove otherwise. Even drinking milk from a young age does not protect against future fracture risk but actually increases it. Shattering the “savings account” calcium theory, Cumming and Klineberg report their study findings as follows:
“Consumption of dairy products, particularly at age 20 years, was associated with an increased risk of hip fracture in old age. (“Case-Control Study of Risk Factors for Hip Fractures in the Elderly”. American Journal of Epidemiology. Vol. 139, No. 5, 1994).
And the 12 year long Harvard Nurses’ Health Study found that those who consumed the most calcium from dairy foods broke more bones than those who rarely drank milk. This is a broad study based on 77,761 women aged 34 through 59
The best milk substitutes
My favorite milk substitute is unsweetened almond milk, not only because it is alkalizing (as almonds are), but also because it’s delicious and tastes very similar to milk. I even cook with it!
If almond milk is hard to get, you can also try rice or soy milk. I strongly suggest consuming only organic soy milk to insure it’s not made with genetically modified soy. There is also some controversy about unfermented soy products, so try to use it in moderation.
Just wanted to say that I totally agree with your article! I grew up with very little dairy products because I was slightly allergic to it. Instead I was given organic soy milk, which is delicious, to be honest. But, its not all that good for you. Recently I’ve heard that the body is unable to properly use soy, and it blocks important thyroid hormones to help your body. Last year i had part of my thyroid removed, and soy was all I drank..I’ve had issues with that all my life, so I suggest it’d be better with an almond milk or even oat milk, which is a bit uncommon but has very many heart benefits. Oat milk is amazing, tastes way better than cow’s milk. I worked in a healthfood store which is how I came to find it, I highly reccomend it. Thanks for sharing the article!